Boots UK has today announced that the retailer will temporarily close around 60 stores by Wednesday April 15, 2020. The measure comes amid the coronavirus crisis, with Boots stating that its priority is to support the NHS, ensure access to a pharmacy for every community, and look after “our amazing and selfless colleagues as they serve on the front line to support our patients and customers”.
Boots, which has more than 2,400 stores in the UK, has said that the closing stores are typically in city centre or shopping locations.
The health and beauty retailer and pharmacy chain said that these locations are usually within a few minutes’ walk to the next closest Boots pharmacy.
Customers are directed to visit the Boots.com website in order to locate their nearest stores.
It comes after Boots has seen the locations where people need to access the retailer and pharmacy change “fundamentally” during the coronavirus crisis.
Local community pharmacies are seeing more than double the number of people requiring prescriptions, Boots said, while airport stores and central London branches near offices have very few customers at the moment.
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Boots said that they need to ensure they have “enough colleagues playing their vital role where it’s currently most needed”, with the temporary store closures also enabling the retailer to “send home those colleagues who are working in stores that are not busy”.
Amid seeing higher staff absences recently, Boots UK has asked its pharmacy, healthcare, and store management colleagues working in quieter stores to help out teams in nearby busy pharmacies.
Where this is either not needed or not possible, Boots said it will instead ask employees to “stay safe at home”.
The temporary closures will take place in two waves, with the first taking effect this week, and the remainder closing by Wednesday next week.
From Thursday evening this week, 25 London stores will temporarily close, followed by a further 35 UK wide stores due to close on the evening of Tuesday April 14.
All customers, and any prescription services, will be directed to the nearest alternative Boots, which in most cases is a short walk away.
The retailer and chemist said that any customers who have existing deliveries or prescriptions to collect at any of the affected stores, will be contacted over the course of the next few days.
A spokesperson for Boots said: “All over the country, we are working tirelessly to support the NHS and to provide our customers with the advice, healthcare, medicine and products that they need.
“We are committed to being there for the people that need us and we will not leave a community without a pharmacy.
“We would like to thank our colleagues for their work and our customers for their support and generosity.”